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Host preferences of immature Dermacentor reticulatus (Acari: Ixodidae) in a forest habitat in Germany

Pfäffle, Miriam, Littwin, Nina, Petney, Trevor
Ticks and tick-borne diseases 2015 v.6 no.4 pp. 508-515
tick-borne diseases, ticks, Dermacentor reticulatus, forests, Apodemus flavicollis, Clethrionomys glareolus, nymphs, woodlands, pathogens, humans, hosts, mice, larvae, host preferences, small mammals, mortality, disease transmission, immatures, habitats, Germany
Dermacentor reticulatus is widespread throughout Europe and is expanding its range in several European countries. It is associated with a number of different pathogens. Its role in the transmission of disease to humans is currently small; however, it might play an important role in the maintenance of pathogens in enzootic cycles. The ecology of D. reticulatus, especially of the immatures, is not well known. In this study, ticks from small mammals, caught in a capture-mark-release study between May 2012 and October 2014 in a unique woodland area close to Karlsruhe, Germany, were collected. The main host species trapped were the yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) and the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). Small mammal populations showed high variability in their density between the study years, which is probably due to harsh winter conditions in 2012/2013 and missing mast leading to high winter mortality. Larvae and nymphs of D. reticulatus were predominantly found in July and August, respectively, and the infestation rates among the different small mammal species suggest a host preference of D. reticulatus for M. glareolus.